Fiona Denny is a Langwarrin mother of two (four if you count her fur babies!) part time worker and president of the Mornington Peninsula Volunteer branch of Make-A-Wish which takes children on a carefully designed, unique journey where they anticipate and experience their most cherished wish coming true. We recently sat down with Fiona to learn more about her work with Make-A-Wish and just how this busy mum balances home life, working and volunteering.
MLTS – Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Fiona, tell us a little about yourself and your family, have you always grown up on the Peninsula?
Fiona – I was born and raised in Frankston and after spending a year in Queensland returned to Langwarrin where we now call home! I’ve been married to Damien for eight years, he works as a Merchant Seaman. We have two children Archer (6) and Isabella (4) and two Cavoodles, Havi & Nala. I work for myself as a bookkeeper which allows me to shuffle my hours around when I need to be there for the kids!
MLTS – So you’re really a busy mama of four!! And you also volunteer for Make-A-Wish, what inspired you to start volunteering and what is your role there?
Fiona – When I was a stay at home Mum I wanted to give something back to the community and searched the Volunteer Victoria website and came across an ad for Make-A-Wish Australia. I signed up with them in June 2014 and this year I was appointed president of the Mornington Peninsula Volunteer Branch.
MLTS – That’s amazing Fiona, such a selfless achievement! So what does volunteering for Make-A-Wish entail?
Fiona – Being a part of the wish granting process, fundraising and spreading the word about Make-A-Wish! We attend monthly meetings in Mornington where we discuss current wish journeys and upcoming fundraising events.
MLTS – Such an incredible charity, we can imagine it can be quite an emotional role at times though?
Fiona – It can, however we’re the link between National Office and the wish child and their families. We are the ones that get to ring them with the good news that they’re eligible for a wish and we go and meet with them to discuss what the child’s cherished wish is. Every child is different and affected by their medical condition in an individual way so of course it’s emotional as sometimes we’re there when they child and family is at their most vulnerable but we’re also there for either their wish or handing over the itinerary or details of their wish. It’s an honour to share in such a special moment with them. It makes me appreciate what I have in life that’s for sure.
MLTS – Wow, that would be such an incredible moment for everyone involved. What is one of your most memorable stories/experiences with Make-A-Wish?
Fiona – Each wish journey I’ve been on has been memorable in some way or another. One huge aspect I take out of every wish is the amazing smiles and joy from the child or their family, it’s so precious and I’m so privileged! My most memorable experience was taking part in a wish where a boy named Ryan was a huge Scooby Doo fan and his wish was to solve a mystery with Shaggy and the gang. The wish took place at the Melbourne Zoo and myself and fellow volunteer Donna were hands on running around the zoo helping Ryan find the clues to find Scooby Doo! I think at one stage I almost got lost trying to find the Gorilla enclosure where I needed to be waiting for Ryan to give him his next clue! It was an amazing experience to be part of and to share with him and his family.
MLTS – Scooby Doo hunter one minute, busy mama the next! How do you juggle working, volunteering and being a mum?
Fiona – I enjoy volunteering so I make it fit in my life. My family are so supportive and if Damien’s away my parents help with Archer and Isabella. The great thing about Make-A-Wish is we put in what we can, if we’re unable to make a meeting it’s fine, if we’re not able to be part of a wish for whatever reason we can wait for the next wish, I can’t say how much of my time it takes up as each week is different but we have such a great bunch of volunteers who help out when they can.
MLTS – That sounds like a great balance and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, people get overwhelmed when thinking about volunteering because they think it will take up so much of their time but I know personally that organisations are just so appreciative of any time you can spare… what advise do you have to others who may have been thinking about volunteering with a community organisation/charity but are not sure where to start?
Fiona – Just contact the organisation and ask! We at Make-A-Wish Australia are always on the look out for volunteers, there’s a heap of information on the website www.makeawish.org.au and you can submit your expression of interest there. There are also so many ways people can help without actually volunteering, the website has all the information. We also maintain our local branch Facebook page where we keep our followers informed of upcoming events and Wish stories https://www.facebook.com/MorningtonPeninsulaMAW/
MLTS – Sound advise, simply pick up the phone and ask! Love it! And you love living on the Peninsula, where are some of your fave places to take the family?
Fiona – I absolutely love the diversity of the Mornington Peninsula but definitely our favourite is the beaches! From the quick trips down to Frankston or a drive to Safety Beach with the dogs, we also love going paddle boarding at Blairgowrie or Sorrento, we are truly spoiled with our amazing beaches!
Thank you so much for chatting with us Fiona and I’m sure the community is with us when we say thank you for volunteering with Make-A-Wish.
If you would like to find out more information or make a donation to Make-A-Wish visit www.makeawish.org.au .
Do you know a local mama you would like to nominate as a Mama’s Inspire? We are always on the look out for small business owners or mums that are making a difference in our community – contact us here.